NATS is marking one year since delivering 3Di, its award winning tool which measures the environmental efficiency of air traffic, unlocking estimated savings of 600,000 tonnes of CO2 and £120 million of fuel by 2015.
Over the course of 2012, NATS’ 3Di score – as measured on a scale where zero equates to a ‘perfect flight’ – has been steadily improving, reflecting the range of environmental initiatives NATS has introduced to help save airlines fuel and minimise CO2 emissions.
The indexed 3Di score currently stands at 23.9 compared with 24.2 in January 2012. This performance is in line with the Civil Aviation Authority’s estimated savings of 600,000 tonnes of CO2 and £120 million of fuel by 2015 – the equivalent to 2,000 flights from London to New York.
3Di works by comparing the trajectory and route an aircraft takes – from real radar data - with an optimal profile which would minimise fuel burn and CO2. This means it can measure the benefits delivered by air traffic control of a smooth, continuous descent or climb, cruise levels as requested by pilots, and the most direct point-to-point routeings.
Ian Jopson, NATS Head of Environment and Community Affairs, said: “A focus on sustainability is vital if our industry is going to be able to grow. That is why NATS has made 3Di one of its core performance measures. This year’s results show that focus is beginning to deliver results.”
“We’ve made good strides forward, but much more still needs to be done and we have a packed programme of activity for this year.”
The improvement in the 3Di score is a result of a number of technology and procedural changes NATS has pioneered over the past 12 months.
Increasing use of the next generation air traffic controller aid, iFACTS, is allowing controllers to better check an aircraft’s climb profile and allocate flights more closely to their fuel optimum levels.
Further improvements relate to the trial of a new system at Edinburgh Airport called Flight Profile Monitor which uses enhanced radar data to analyse the number of aircraft achieving continuous climbs and descents. That data then helps inform improvements in air traffic control performance and airline procedures.
The trial has seen 20 per cent rise in the number of continuous decent approaches – a performance that equates to yearly savings of 800 tonnes of CO2 and £165,000 in fuel.
Flight Profile Monitor recently won the Airport Operators Association prestigious ‘best environmental initiative’ award.